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1. Medical procedures of abortion
2. Moral aspects of the abortion debate and the question of its legitimacy
2.1 Abortion and Religion
2.2 Value of life debate
2.3 Rape/Incest problemacy
2.4 Psychological aspects
2.5 Physical aspects
In the following I`ll deal with the topic of abortion.
At first, I`m going to give some background information about the history of this discussion:
In 1948 the United Nations signed the declaration of human rights. It was the first internationally accepted document which promised every human being the right to life. It is also the birthday of the 20th century abortion discussion.
Also in 1948, the World Medical Association (WMA) met in Geneve and stated that the utmost respect for human life was to be from the moment of conception. In 1970, the WMA held a meeting in Oslo and re-affirmed this declaration unanimously.
But the most important decision for the US abortion practice was a state court decision in 1973. Since the case of Roe verses Wade abortion is a legal act in the US. In her testimony Jane Roe claimed, that she was gang raped.
The jury was quite impressed because of the very emotional and detailed description and decided to authorize abortions for the first three months of pregnancy. In a second case, Doe verses Bolton, the United States senate judiciary committee concluded that women should have the possibility for an abortion at any stage of her pregnancy.
These two decisions lay the ground for a debate, which is dicussed very actively and even very emotionally because it touches many different areas of human interaction: It touches ethical and emotional topics, but also the conceptions of legality and humanity.
To bring a structure into this very wide-spread topic is quite difficult but I will try to do so by splitting my essay up in 3 parts:
1. Medical procedures of abortion
Medical procedures are generally divided in two groups:
- First trimester procedures (during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) And
- Second and third trimester procedures (13. week of pregnancy and later)
There are four major techniques in the first trimestre:
1. Dilatation and Curettage (D&C)
This means the insertion of a loop shaped steel knife into the uterus in order to cut the baby`s body into pieces. The placenta is then scraped off the uterine wall.
2. Vacuum curettage
A suction tube with a cutting edge is inserted into the womb, which then sucks parts of the baby`s body, the placenta,blood and amniotic fluids into a bottle.
3. RU 486
A pill is taken orally during the five to nine week period. Because of the chemical reactions caused by the pill, the baby is expelled from the uterus and dies.
Methtrexate is administered by intramuscular injection. It attacks the life support system of the baby and the supply with food or fluids stops and the fetus dies
Second and third trimester procedures:
1. Dilatation and Evacuation
Forceps with sharp metal jaws grasp parts of the body and tear them away from the body
2. Salt Poisoning
A needle is inserted into the abdomen of the mother. Her amniotic fluid is
replaced with a solution of concentrated salt. The salt burns the babys lung and inner organs and kills it after about an hour.
Are naturally produced chemical compounds. The injecion of artificial prostaglandins at a too early stage induce a premature birth. Often, various forms of toxins are inserted to insure dead delivery.
Incisions are made into the abdomen and uterus of the women and the baby is removed.
All these techniques have one in common: They include high risks for the mother. Some of the most commom dangers are an infection leading to sterility, excessive bleeding, a perforated uterus leading to sterility or death and high fever. These procedures also increase tubal pregnancy, miscarriage, premature birth, sterility and the risk of breast cancer.
To understand the signifiance of this methods correctly, it is a must too know after what period of pregnancy the fetus is able to think and feel. This information will be given in the following overview:
At 0 days the egg and sperm unite and a new human life is created. After 4 days, the cells begin to differentiate. In the area between 18-21 days, a baby´s heart begins to beat. After 6 weeks, the muscles and nerves begin to work. At 7 weeks, 100 000 nerve cells are made each minute. Between 7 and 8 weeks, the fingerprints are formed. After 8 weeks, all of the unborn baby`s organs are formed and it has the shape of an adult brain.It can now completely feel pain and other emotions. At 11 weeks, all body systems are working. After 3 months, there is a distinct individuality in behaviour. When being 5 months old, response to sound and light can be measured. After 6 months the baby can be born prematurely without dying after a short time.
2. Moral aspects of the abortion debate
The discussion of the moral aspects of the abortion debate is quite difficult because of the many different aspects, topics and points of view that have to be reconsidered to get a profound opinion. This part will begin with an information about the religious opinion to abortion, followed by the "Value of Life" debate, afterwards the also well known
"Rape/Incest proplemacy" and last but not least the psychological and physcial aspects of an abortion will be discussed.
2.1 Abortion and Religion
The catholic church believes in the teachings of pope John Paul II who said "life is always good".
This is an allusion to the bible which says in the book of Genesis I,26: "The human is created in the image and likeness of god." So the human body is a mirror of god and that`s why god is the only one who can decide about life or death of any human. Another argument of christian anti-abortion groups is the reference to the fifth Commandment: "Thou shall not kill". In the belief of these anti-abortion groups, any abortion without regarding the circumstances is a direct violation of the fifth commandment.
Muslims and jews are officially also opponents of abortion.
The traditional jewish law has clearly stated, that if a women is raped or in cases of incest this crime would not justify a second crime: The crime of abortion.
So all major religions have a quite similar opinion.
2.2 Value of life
Abortion means the intentional termination of pregnancy. In law it is formulated "the knowing destruction of the life of an unborn child." (Mass General Laws Chapter 112 Section 12K)
At opinion polls about this topic, about 40% of the Americans are in favour of abortion, and another 40% are against it. The rest has no opinion.
But who is right, who is wrong?
The arguments of both sides shall be given in the following. There are generally two types of people:
The anti-abortion people and the pro-abortion people. The pro-abortion people believe, that the mother is the only person who may decide about getting a baby or not and the state has no right to interfere in this decision. The anti-abortion people are in the opinion, that from the moment of the existence of a new human life any person has no moral right to abort this life.
And this is already the beginning of the problem. The question is:
When does a new human exist???
In the opinion of the anti-abortion groups, a new human life is created in the moment the egg and the sperm unite. Pro-abortion people have different definitions of humanity: For some groups, human life begins at its birth, for other when the cells begin to differentiate and for the most when the brain and the other organs are fully developed. This question is from such big importance because it decides over the point of time the fetus is protected by the human rights. Under the circumstance that the existence of a human would be defined from the time of the fertilization, each abortion were against the human rights and therefore illegal.
Another topic in this debate are the motives for an abortion.
Many anti-abortion people are afraid that abortion will become more and more a new way of contraception and will replace the usage of condoms or of the pill. They back up this argument with the information that only one percent of abortions done each year are a result of involuntary sexual occurrences. The rest is mostly done by married women between 20-29.
This argument is answered by pro-abortion groups with the stated view that the decision in itself is already agonizing and extremely painful for the women.They say, that noone who has not already been in such a situation can understand this pain completely. For them, abortion is not an easy way out of the problem. They admit, that there is a minority who would use abortion without thinking about it, but a vast majority would have profound reasons for doing such a step.
One of the propably best known issues in this debate is the question whether the mother is the only one who can decide upon her body or not.
In the belief of the anti-abortion groups, each woman has the right to decide upon her body as long as she doesn`t hurt the life of others. But for them, in the moment she gets pregnant, she has nomore the full right over her body and has to take responsibility for her baby. One member of an american anti-abortion group, Dr.Edwin Connow means at this point: "Should she have the right for what is really judicial execution of new life - not a cat, not a chicken but a human being - not only potential but actual?" Another reason why they deprive the pregnant women of deciding about their body is the obligation of keeping human life sacred. These groups claim, that an abortion would not just deny the baby to live, it would also deny a mother the joy and oppurtunity to raise a child. This would lead,in their opinion, to a post-abortion trauma.
The pro-abortion groups have a totally different opinion on this topic. They say, that the mother is the only one who can decide whether bringing a child to birth or not, because she is the one who has to wear it for 9 months and who has to solve the psychological problems which are caused by both an abortion or a birth. Neither the state nor a court has the right to decide about the body of an independent citizen of any state or country in their opinion.
The pro-abortion groups have the argument, that in their opinion the ban of abortions would lead to a much bigger number of so called "back street" abortions, which include a much higher risk for the women than an abortion in a hospital. This is declined by opponents of the abortion with the reference to studies which have as a result that states without legal abortion mostly have no higher rate of illegal abortions than states with the possibility for a legal abortion. A big number of people want to stay anonymous while aborting their child and so they would never go to hospital for an abortion, despite it is a legal operation or not.
Prenatal diagnostic is also a very important topic in the whole "Value of life" debate.
This diagnostic method allows doctors to examine the baby while still being in the mothers body and makes it possible to diagnose congenital defects and handicaps already at a very early stage of pregnancy.
The adherents of the pro-abortion groups regard this possibility to be a great invention because it allows the parents to find out whether their child has any congenital defects and probably to abort it if they are in the opinion that their child would suffer or would have hard pain because of this congenital defects.
This imagination is a nightmare for all abortion opponents. To quote Dr.Hellegers, doctor in the John Hopkins Hospital, Toronto and member of an anti-abortion grop: "Death is hardly a constructive therapy. While it is easy to feel that abortion is being performed for the sake of the fetus, honesty requires us to recognize that we perform it for adults!" He wants to emphasize one of the major reservations of the anti-abortion groups against this method. They believe that the parents would just abort the child because of its handicaps and not because they see it as the better solution for the baby.
These groups claim the non-existence of any evidence to indicate that an infant with congenital defects would rather not be born since he cannot be consulted. They back up their position with the information that the suicide rate among handicapped people is even lower than under the normal population. In their opinion, these seems to evidence the importance of life for the handicapped people. They are asking: If we kill infants with congenital defects before they are born, why not also the already living handicapped peole? They compare this practicy to the euthanasia practicy of the 3rd reich.
2.3 Rape/Incest problemacy
The question, whether a woman who suffered because of incest or being raped should have the right to abort its child is propably the most actively debated topic in the abortion debate.
The abortion opponents are in the opinion that an abortion caused by rape or incest would neither heal the womans pain nor be the best solution for the baby. They say that an innocent life would be punished for the crime of others. In their opinion the abortion would just lead to further emotional stress for the victimized woman in the future. The anti-abortion groups compare an abortion to an accidently caused death of a baby: The mother is devastated and despaired because of this loss. It is natural for a mother to feel the same way after having her child aborted before having a chance to care for and nurture her son or daughter who is a part of her life, in the opinion of these groups.
Advocates of a legal abortion have a totally contrary view on this question.
They have the fear that the anti-abortion groups are only concerned for the fetus and not what will happen to the mother or the mother`s family which has to deal with the incident. If the mother gives birth to the baby she might be unable to bear the psychological trauma of the event and so getting the abortion would prevent her that grief.
2.4 Psychological aspects
The question, what importance psychological traumas or diseases really have in the decision whether to illegalize abortion or not is not clearly answered. Both sides have profound arguments. In the following, I`m just going to give a small summary of them.
The abortion opponents say that the health of women who are mentally ill before they become pregnant is not improved by an abortion. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in 1970: "Serious mental disorders arise more often in women pervious mental problems. Thus the women for whom legal abortion is considered justified on psychiatric grounds, are the ones who have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders."
Another of their arguments is that many women change their mind during the pregnancy. Perhaps they are playing with the idea to abort their child but after its birth they are happy not to have done it.
The argument abortion opponents believe to be the most important is the fact that many women become emotionally unstable after having an abortion. They prove this assertion with some statistics. After having had an abortion, 92% of the women felt a need to suppress their emotions. 82% had greater feelings of loneliness or isolation and 86% had increased their tendency toward anger or rage. 53% increased their usage of drugs and/or alcohol. 28% even attempted to kill themselves. More than half of them successfully!
Pro-abortion people reply to this arguments with the existing possibility that the mother might not be ready to care for the child edequately and might be unable to attend to the child`s needs after it is born. This might be caused by own negative psychological experiences in the own childhood, for example child abuse. They believe the pregnancy to be a too painful strain for the mother in such a case.
2.5 Physical aspects
The physical aspects which might justify an abortion or not are also an important part in this debate. Both parties have quite different opinions in this question.
The pro-abortion movement mentions the effects a pregnancy especially has on teenagers: They sometimes drop out of school, get mentally ill or even commit suicide because they can not cope with the fact of their pregnancy. They quote researches which show that pregnancy can be a great danger for the teenagers health because their bodies aren`t developed enough to give birth to a child.
Another important "high risk group" are in the belief of the pro abortion people the old women who get pregnant. These groups claim that the age of the mother might cause high risks and health problems for the mother and the baby. They speak of a high danger for the baby to be born with a handicap.
So, in such cases like very young or very old women these groups believe the physical risks of a pregnancy to be a profound reason for aborting the child.
The abortion opponents have a different opinion.
They also refer to medical studies but their studies have a totally different result.
To quote Dr.Guttmacher, one of the world leaders of the pro-life movement: "Almost any women can be brought through pregnancy alive unless she suffers from cancer or leukemia."
This shows the belief of these groupings which regard the age of the mother to be propably an obstacle but no legitimation to abort a child.
As a conclusion I want to say that after having mentioned the most important arguments of both groupings and after having occupied myself with this topic I come to the result that in my opinion abortion can just be justified in some extreme cases like child abuse or rape but that it should be used just very rarely and just after a detailed examination of the mothers situation. I regard psychological consultancy before an abortion to be a must which should be extented.
Furthermore, I am very in favour of the german practicy to allow abortions just until the 12th week of pregnancy. An abortion at any later time canot be justified by any reason in my opinion because of the fast developing of a babys body and its ability to feel pain already at a quite early time of pregnancy.
So all in all, I believe abortion to be murder.
It maybe the last possibility in some cases but it remains the killing of an innocent baby and should therefore be allowed just under very strict conditions and in just a very few cases.
Nevertheless, at the end it remains the decision of the mother to bring her child to birth or not because noone, even the state, has the right to interfere in such a personal decision.
I demand the education in sexual matters to be improved in order to make abortion as superfluous as possible because of a responsible dealing with sexuality among the society which will hopefully make the pictures of dead, aborted babys to be just a frightful relict of a former dark age.
- Quote paper
- Frederic Wessel (Author), 2001, Abortion. Medical procedures and moral aspects, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/102644